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Authors: Donna Marie Rogers

There's Only Been You

The Wild Rose Press
www.thewildrosepress.com

Copyright ©2008 by Donna Kowalczyk

NOTICE: This work is copyrighted. It is licensed only for use by the original purchaser. Making copies of this work or distributing it to any unauthorized person by any means, including without limit email, floppy disk, file transfer, paper print out, or any other method constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment.
CONTENTS

What People Are Saying

There's Only Been You

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

A word about the author...

Thank you for purchasing

* * * *

Sara glanced over her shoulder when the screen door opened.
Mike
. The pan she'd been drying fell from her hands and clattered to the floor.

"We need to talk."

"Where's Garrett?” she asked, attempting to peer around his broad shoulders. She tried not to make eye contact with him. As long as she didn't look him directly in the eye, she'd be able to maintain her composure.

"You've always put him on a goddamn pedestal."

She bent over to pick up the pan. “Don't you dare say anything unkind about him."

"He's a pain in the ass."

Sara shot him a look. “He's not the only one."

A slow smile curved his lips. “Now there's the Sara I know and love."

"Don't you dare throw that word around. If you loved me we wouldn't be in this situation.” A surge of emotion tightened her chest and she silently cursed herself for letting him get to her.

Hands on his hips, Mike sighed. “Look, I know you have every reason to believe that, but it's just not true. I've loved you since the first moment I laid eyes on you."

She paused. God, how she wanted to believe him. But if he'd truly loved her as he claimed, he'd never have been able to stay away for so long. She swallowed past the lump in her throat and reached into the drainer for something else to dry.

"All right, I'm done playing. Come on, we're going for a ride.” Mike reached out and grasped her elbow.

"I'm not going anywhere with you,” she said, yanking her arm free. “If you want to talk, we'll talk, but we're doing it right here.” She tossed the dishtowel on the counter and crossed her arms over her chest.

"You either follow me to my truck or I'll throw you over my shoulder and carry you there. But one way or another, we're taking a ride."

She gasped. “If you touch me I'll scream bloody murder."

"Then I guess I'll have to gag you as well."

What People Are Saying

"WELCOME TO REDEMPTION offers four refreshing and heartwarming stories. These stories bring readers right into the heart of this town, and the lives of its people, with four happy and romantic endings. Reading this book was a real pleasure."

~ Multi-published, award-winning author
Jane Toombs

"Four related tales told by two very talented authors make this anthology a keeper. With their easy, breezy style and skilled characterizations, Rogers and Netzel have created a town that readers won't want to leave."

~
Romantic Times Magazine
: *4 1/2 Stars*

"These characters and stories are marvelous; the two authors worked together impeccably. The people interacted so well, and the stories went together so well, it was if one person did all the writing. All eight of the main characters were so great that I had to fall in love with them and envision them all functioning together in the same town forever. I loved the book and highly recommend it!"

~
The Romance Studio
: *5 Hearts*

[Back to Table of Contents]

There's Only Been You
by
Donna Marie Rogers

[Back to Table of Contents]

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

There's Only Been You

COPYRIGHT ©

2008 by Donna Kowalczyk

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Angela Anderson

The Wild Rose Press

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0706

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Champagne Rose Edition, 2008

Print ISBN 1-60154-327-1

Published in the United States of America

[Back to Table of Contents]

Dedication
In no particular order and for many different reasons—
Robin Kowalczyk, Amanda Brunette, Sue McKlveen,
Kayla Cooper, and Teresa Rogers, my mother.
Thank you all!

[Back to Table of Contents]

Chapter One

Sara Jamison believed in premonitions about as much as she did the Easter Bunny. Yet from the moment she'd opened her eyes that morning, she'd felt the strongest sense of impending doom. Okay, so maybe she
was
being a bit melodramatic, but the unexplainable nervous energy she'd been trying to work off for the past few hours just didn't seem to be dissipating.

She pulled the last pan of cinnamon rolls from the oven with an appreciative sniff and slid it onto the cooling rack, then tested the tub of icing in the microwave to see if it was of drizzling consistency. Perfect. After grabbing a spoon-shaped spatula, she walked out to the front of the shop and slathered the hot icing onto a cooled pan of cinnamon rolls.

The bell above the bakery's door chimed, and she darn near jumped out of her shoes.
Good Lord, woman, get a grip!

Sara looked up in time to see her oldest brother, Garrett, enter the shop. He strode toward her, the smile on his face not quite reaching those big brown eyes.

Uh, oh. Hello, impending doom.
“What is it? What's wrong?"

As if avoiding the inevitable, Garrett walked behind the counter and stole one of the freshly made cinnamon rolls from the tray. He took a huge bite before letting out an exaggerated “Mmmmmm."

Exasperation rumbled in her throat. Garrett could never just say what he came to say. Had to make a big darn production out of it.
Drama King.
She set the icing down and moved to the coffee maker to pour him a cup of the fresh brew.

"Thanks.” He leaned back against the counter and took a few sips, his expression thoughtful.

"Garrett, would you spill it already?"

With a reluctance that unnerved her, he met her gaze. “John Andrews was found dead yesterday in his living room. Looks like he had a heart attack while watching TV."

Her pulse picked up speed.
Good God ...
"Has Mike been contacted yet? Is he coming home for the funeral?” She stared at her brother, silently begging him to say no.

"'Fraid so. According to the officer who spoke to him, Mike should arrive in Green Bay sometime tonight."

Sara slowly shook her head, the shock of it almost too much to comprehend. She tried to pour herself some coffee, but her hands were shaking. She braced them on the counter. “He hated his father. Maybe he won't come."

"He's coming, Sara."

"You don't think he knows, do you?"

Garrett blew out a heavy breath. “I'd say it's unlikely. Nobody else does; how could he?"

"I don't know.” She wasn't exactly convinced.

"Listen, even if he knows, so what? He's not likely to contact you. Don't forget the reason he skipped town in the first place. He's a gutless worm. Just like his father."

The look in his eyes became fierce, and Sara's heart missed a beat. Garrett had a devil of a temper, especially when it came to his family. The last thing she needed was for him to work himself into a fury and go looking for a fight.

Specifically, go looking for Mike Andrews.

"Garrett, you keep that temper of yours in check, especially around Ethan. I don't want him to suspect something's wrong. He's a very intuitive little boy."

His harsh expression softened at the mention of his nephew. “He's a sharp kid all right. Always knows when something's bothering me.” His brow furrowed. “It's annoying as hell, too."

Sara managed a small smile. A talent her son had no doubt inherited from his uncle Garrett, although she'd keep that observation to herself. “You're right, it is."

Garrett polished off the cinnamon roll and licked the icing off his fingers. After a few more sips of coffee, he poured the rest down the sink and tossed the dark pink paper cup in the trash. He stood beside her and hooked an arm around her shoulders. “Listen, the Andrews’ place is on the east side of town, so there's not much of a chance you'll run into him. And before you know it, he'll be on his way back to Chicago and the rock he crawled out from under."

"God, I hope you're right."

"'Course I am. Now,” he gently pulled her with him until they faced the back of the display case, “on to something important."

"You promised to bring back enough sweet rolls for the entire station again, didn't you?"

He grinned down at her. “Yeah, but don't look at me like that. I'll pay for them this time."

"Don't be silly, I wouldn't have this place if it weren't for you. Your sweet rolls are on the house just as they've always been.” She folded one of the big white boxes and began filling it with an assortment of what she knew were everyone's favorites.

"You have this place because you work your tail off. I only co-signed the loan.” Garrett reached in and filched a raspberry-filled bismarck from the box. “Besides, you were meant to own a bakery.” He gestured with the half-eaten pastry, raspberry jam coating a good portion of his upper lip. “These are even better than the ones from that little bakery out in Pulaski."

"Glad to hear it since they're still my biggest competitor."

Sara had loved to cook for as long as she could remember. Even before Uncle Luke moved in with her and her three brothers following the deaths of their parents. So after one bite of Uncle Luke's Spam casserole, she'd dug out her mother's old cookbook and barred her well-meaning uncle from the kitchen.

Baking, however, became her specialty. By the time she'd turned fifteen, the kitchen had become the busiest room in the house. There was always hot coffee in the carafe and fresh-baked something or other coming out of the oven. Her brothers’ friends had even hung out on a regular basis, waiting to see what she'd pull from the oven next.

Which was how she'd met Mike.

She finished the box off with half a dozen chocolate glazed and taped it up. “So who's picking Ethan up from school today?"

"I am. Ethan asked me if I'd pick him up in the squad car on the last day of school.” Garrett grinned, looking very much like a little boy himself.

"Thanks, I appreciate it. Just drop him off here, and he can watch cartoons in the storeroom till I finish up."

"Sounds like a plan. I'll see you later.” He picked up the box and strode out the door.

Sara stared in numb silence as he drove out of the parking lot.
Mike's coming home.
It was a miracle her knees hadn't buckled under the impact of Garrett's news. But she knew her overprotective big brother never would've left if he'd known how unsettled she was. And she certainly didn't want him getting into trouble at work.

The shop's bell rang again just as she stuck the tub of icing back into the microwave. She took a deep breath and composed herself. Later, she'd dwell on Mike's imminent arrival. Right now, she had a bakery to run.

Her neighbor, Nancy Martin, walked through the door, keys jingling in her hand. Sara arched a brow and shot a quick look up at the neon, cupcake-shaped clock that hung over her blackboard menu. “Wow, you're out and about early."

"I have tons of running around to do today for the party. Thought I'd hype myself up with some caffeine before hitting the stores. Besides, it's gorgeous out there. Already seventy degrees, and it's supposed to hit eighty by noon."

Sara smiled, although it took some effort. She'd never felt less like making idle chit-chat. “Well, I'm glad I decided to do Shelly's cake first thing this morning."

"You did? Cool.” Nancy plopped her purse and keys on the counter and blew out a dramatic breath. “I still can't believe my baby's turning five.” She leaned in to peer at the half-iced tray of cinnamon rolls, and a mob of strawberry-blond curls spilled forward. “Man, those suckers smell good. I'll take one to go and a cup of your house blend."

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